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NAPSTER'S NINE LIVES

Circuit Court Offers Last-Minute Reprieve
Stop the execution. Yet another last-minute call from the governor has rescued beleaguered file-sharer Napster. Sort of.

This time, the stay comes from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, which overturned a week-old decision ordering the company to block all song trading through the service unless it showed it could block 100% of the songs record companies have identified as copyrighted material.

The appeals court released a succinct statement today saying last week's ruling by federal Judge Marilyn Hall Patel, would be "stayed pending a further order of this court."

Napster still comes under the terms of an original court order that requires it to block certain songs. The latest version of the software blocks far more songs than just those identified by the labels.

Napster counsel Jonathan Schwartz says the company's studying the implications of the decision:  "We're pleased that the U.S. Court of Appeals granted for a stay of the District Court's most recent order. We continue to push ahead with the launch of our new membership service later this summer. Now will someone help me download Sinatra's ‘My Way’?"

The RIAA said it expected the injunction against the service to be back in place as soon the appeals court had reviewed the facts.

"We are confident the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals will uphold Judge Patel's decision," said the RIAA Sr. Exec. VP and General Counsel Cary Sherman: "The evidence in this case clearly shows that Napster has not done all it can to police its system. It is important to note that today's ruling does not change in any way the fact that Napster must prevent copyrighted works from appearing on its system as previously ordered by the Court. Gosh darnit, they've had more twists and turns than Gary Condit's love life."

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